Whale Watch Kaikoura is a Maori (Mow-Ree) owned and operated business that brings visitors from all over the world to New Zealand to view the whale in its natural habitat.  Increased tourism has created the need for expansion of their operations, coupled with an opportunity to provide a key cultural facility for the redevelopment of a lower socio-economic region.   The 11,000 sq. meter project serves as both a museum that celebrates the native Maori culture, their connection to the sea, and their history in New Zealand as well as relocation of the whale watching headquarters.  The Visitor center is a unique project born out of the region with a strong focus on the Kaikoura environment.  The museum is a linear procession that is scripted to ‘get into people’s hearts, dislodging their brains through a spiritual experience.’


The Visitor Center is sited to align with the 30degree axis in plan as it is situated within the ravine.  Although not a Marae by definition of use, the client acknowledges that this building holds such significant spiritual connection to that of a temple that it have some formal relationships.  The title ‘Marae of the Sea’ is their way of identifying that the museum has a connection to the spiritual, cultural, and environmental aspects of their people.


Project completed as Project Designer at RNL.